Chicken Shawarma

$7.98 recipe / $2.00 each

This has to be the very best chicken marinade that I’ve ever made. The marinade was so good that I might even use it as a sauce in the future. The flavor is an interesting mix of savory garlic, sweet spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, and tangy yogurt and lemon. It’s pure magic. Next time I’ll probably cut the chicken into strips before marinating to increase the surface area and magnify the flavor saturation.

I made this chicken with the intention of eating it in these sandwich wraps but then I started topping salads with it and eventually just snacked on it plain. It’s just that good. You could really use this flavorful chicken for anything. I divided the ingredient list to show just the chicken & marinade in case you want to use it for something other than the sandwich, because even if you don’t want the sandwich, you NEED to at least try the chicken.

If you’ve had chicken shawarma in a restaurant, this is a bit different. Real chicken shawarma is cooked slowly on a rotisserie with fattier bits of chicken. The result is an uber-moist, somewhat greasy delight. Also, when you buy a chicken shawarma sandwich, the lettuce is usually tossed in an oregano vinaigrette, feta and red onion. Well, I had some feta and red onion but forgot both when building my sandwich. A total tragedy… but it was still magically delicious.

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma

4.8 from 16 reviews
chicken shawarma
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $7.98
Cost Per Serving: $2.00
Serves: 4
Ingredients
CHICKEN & MARINADE
  • 2 lg. (1.25 lbs) chicken breasts $2.48
  • ½ cup plain yogurt $0.25
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic $0.36
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.32
  • ½ tsp cinnamon $0.03
  • ½ tsp dried oregano $0.03
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg $0.03
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves $0.03
YOGURT SAUCE
  • 7 oz. cup plain greek yogurt $1.59
  • ¼ tsp minced garlic $0.03
  • ¼ tsp dried dill $0.03
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
SANDWICH
  • 4 homemade naan, pita, or flatbread $0.64
  • ½ head romaine lettuce $0.80
  • 1 medium cucumber $0.69
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes $0.63
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade (yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, cinnamon, oregano, salt, nutmeg, and clove). Add chicken to the marinade, coat well, cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours. If desired, slice the chicken into strips before marinating to maximize the flavor.
  2. Prepare the yogurt sauce for the sandwiches. Open a 7 oz. container of plain greek yogurt and stir in the garlic, dill, and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. After marinating the chicken, grill until cooked through (I use a George Foreman, cooked for about 7 minutes).
  4. Prepare the vegetables for the sandwich. Chop, rinse, and drain the lettuce in a colander. Wash and slice the cucumber and tomato.
  5. Build the chicken shawarma sandwiches. Spread the yogurt sauce on your flat bread, top with the chicken and vegetables. Roll the sandwich closed. You can wrap the sandwich in foil to help it stay closed as you eat.

 

chicken shawarma

Step By Step Photos

shawarma marinadeshawarma marinadeTo make the marinade, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, cinnamon, oregano, salt, nutmeg, and clove. This is a seriously magical mix of herbs and spices. I can’t explain it, you just have to try it.

marinate chickenCombine the chicken and marinate, cover (or seal) tightly, and refrigerate for 4-24 hours. My chicken breasts were frozen so I just added the marinade to the freezer bag (after they were thawed, of course) and marinated them in there.

grill chickenGrill the chicken until cooked through. It may be time for me to upgrade my 10 year old, single-serving sized George Foreman! I need more grilling capacity!

slice chickenAfter it’s grilled, let it sit for a few minutes to let the juices redistribute and then slice it into strips. Like I said, next time I’ll probably slice it *before* marinating to let more of that glorious flavor get in.

dill yogurt sauceTo make the yogurt sauce for the sandwich, I just stir some dried dill, minced garlic, and salt into a container of plain greek yogurt.

dill yogurt sauceHonestly, I don’t even measure them, I just sprinkle some in, taste it, and add more if needed. I like to let the sauce refrigerate for a while to allow the flavor to soak into the yogurt.

prepare veggiesPrepare the veggies for the sandwich. Wash and slice up the cucumber and tomato (and maybe red onion, if you’re so inclined). Chop and wash the lettuce, then let it drain in a colander until mostly dry.

chicken shawarmaThen, just build your sandwich! I have the yogurt sauce on top in the photo but you’ll probably want to spread it right on the bread. It will add more moisture there plus it will be easier to eat without getting white yogurt sauce all over your face!

70 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    This was seriously good. I tend to stick to your vegetarian meals because they are cheaper but I usually add this one in every other week because it is sooooo good. I don’t have a grill so I just empty the marinated chicken bag into a skillet and it cooks just fine.
    I also use precooked naan from Costco, and the past few times I have used fresh dill because it is available to me. When using fresh I have to add a lot more than suggested to get the real flavor of it.

  2. Erin S. says:

    I made this tonight and it turned out amazing! I marinated the chicken for 24 hours and it came out so flavorful and tender. This is a new family favorite!

  3. Michael says:

    This recipe is fantastic! The marinade seemed odd, but it comes out delicious, and the naan far exceeded my expectations. The second time I made it I subbed spinach for the lettuce and added slices of avocado, both additions that I thought worked decently well.

    Bottom line, I made it for a friend and she said it tasted better than the ones she’s eaten while overseas in Romania!

  4. Courtney Puckett says:

    I love your blog and all of your recipes! Your blog is a life saver for this single mom/teacher!!!

  5. Tiffany says:

    I don’t have a grill. Would i be able to cook the chicken in the broiler?

    • Yes, that would probably work. Just make sure to keep a close eye on it because food can burn quickly under the broiler.

  6. Julie B says:

    I love this recipe. I did as you suggested, and cut the chicken in strips before adding to marinade. The mixture of the spices with the other ingredients is so very good. This also makes great leftovers.

  7. This was quite possibly the best chicken I have ever made. I made the Naan the day before (I questioned my naan abilities but it came out rather well, barring the flour mess), and let it marinade overnight, didn’t have tomatoes, and substituted pickles for cucumber..

    Used chicken strips because, again, that is what I had on hand – and it saved any ‘slicing before’ issues, too. I can’t recommend the marinade enough. I intend to make other people try it.

  8. Meghan says:

    This was so good and EASY! Made it two nights ago and just made another batch of chicken in the marinade to either eat tonight or to freeze the chicken (cooked) for lunches. Even my 5 and 3 yo liked this. My husband and I ate ours’ with feta, cucumber, red onion, lettuce and tomato. We bought a big pack of naan last weekend at Costco for 5.50, and there’s enough in there for all of us to eat this for at least 2 meals, so that saves me the time of having to make that and it’s still relatively cheap.

    • Kathleen says:

      I’m going to grill a bunch of chicken with this marinade and freeze it to use for sandwiches and salads and what not. I think the freezing is a great idea!

      • Kathleen says:

        I grilled a bunch of strips and froze them. Soooo gooood! I don’t even mix them in a sandwich, just throw them in with some mixed bowls / leftovers for lunch. I want to savour the full flavour!

  9. Danyel says:

    This was relatively simple and tasty. Trying to do the naan at the same time was a bit much. I’ll do the naan earlier in the day and warm it next time. My husband thought the sauce was “too yogurty” so I may mix up a small batch of the sauce with sour cream for him in the future. Great fresh meal.

  10. Danyel says:

    I’m planning to make this for my family this weekend and wondering if there is a cheap fish that would work in place of the chicken for my daughter who doesn’t eat chicken?

    • I’m not sure how well fish will hold up to the highly acidic marinade. Just be sure to not leave it in there too long or else the fish could get mushy.

      • Danyel says:

        We ended up doubling the vegetables and my daughter inhaled it. No meat necessary.

  11. Nova says:

    This was delicious! The perfect summer lunch :) I was out of dill, so I just made a smaller batch of the marinade in place of the yogurt sauce and added chopped cucumber and cracked black pepper. It was so tasty!

  12. Sarah M says:

    I really liked this recipe!! I loved the marinade, turned out great! You couldn’t taste that there were unusual spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, just great flavor. I ended up adding in some red onion to my toppings, and I lightly pickled them for a nice bright flavor. :)

  13. Thanks for the awesome recipe. it was so delicious and flavourful. the kids loved it and I am planning to do this recipe again for tomorrow.
    wondering if i can freeze the marinated chicken? will it affect the flavour?
    it tastes so awesome, i thought if i can freeze the marinated chicken, cooking on weekday nights would be easy and kids will also eat without fuss. any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks!!

    • I’ve had many people ask that, but I have yet to try it. The only possible down side that I can think of is that the prolonged exposure to the acid might make the chicken mushy, but I haven’t tested that theory.

  14. Ashlyn says:

    Ooooh, this is sooo good. I just made it tonight, it’s absolutely lovely and fresh and full of flavour. I baked my chicken instead of grilling just because I wanted to workout while it was cooking away.

  15. Kelly says:

    Yep another person mentioned that this is closer to a gyro then a schwarma ….. they are both very similar and oh so good!!!! We lived in Dubai for a few years and they too put pickles instead of cucumber and a garlicky mayo of sorts as the topping ….. either way it is a regional sandwich and each Middle Eastern country has their own take …… great job!!! My hats off to you!!!

  16. Karen says:

    So yummy. I sliced the chicken and marinated for 24 hours or so. I cooked on a grill pan. The yogurt will get a bit charred, but it’s really tasty. I made the pita to go along with this, but I served as a salad on a bed of romaine, cucumber, grape tomatoes, crumbled feta and drizzled with the yogurt sauce.

  17. Becky says:

    Mmm… I made this with chicken thighs instead of breast – they are juicier and I was a little afraid that the breast could become too dry. I also cooked it on the BBQ for more flavor. When I first made the yogurt sauce, even with a little extra garlic, it wasn’t very good, but after sitting in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, it was phenomenal. We didn’t assemble it as a sandwich, but had a salad on the side and cut some flatbread into wedges. We served it with the yogurt sauce and TJ’s Mediterranean Hummus. This is definitely a make-again! Thanks for posting!

  18. Esther says:

    This looks good but I don’t eat meat and milk products together- is there anything I can sub for the yogurt here?

    • Hmmm, that’s a really tough question. The yogurt definitely has a very distinct flavor that is key to the overall dish. If you have health food stores in your area, you can check to see if you can find a soy yogurt. Mayonnaise might be good, even though it’s a completely different flavor. :)

  19. Can I use whole wheat flour to make this?

  20. Matt says:

    Where did you find a pound of chicken for $2.48? Is that the normal price?

    • I pretty much ONLY buy my chicken when it’s on sale. My local grocery store has it on sale for about $2/lb. every so often, so I stock up and keep it in my freezer for later. You just have to watch the sales and get to know them. Check out multiple stores to make sure you’re not missing out (a lot of stores have their sales fliers online now, so you can make a quick job of it once a week).

  21. Susanna says:

    I’m out of plain yogurt right now but am craving this. Do you think I can use sour cream?

    • Hmmm, not sure about that one. The yogurt gives it such a unique flavor… but technically they’re very similar, so I think it’s worth a shot!

  22. Elyse says:

    Love your take on chawarma, I just buy the chawarma spices and mix a few teaspoons with labneh (plain Greek yogurt), garlic and lemon juice. My husband is Lebanese (we live in Benin-tons of Lebanese here) and they all put pickles and French fries in their chawarma, most like their sandwiches spicy too. But I’ve never seen feta, that turns it into more of a Greek recipe. Anyway, I LOVE your website, I’ve already made two pasta dishes and the pineapple chicken quesadillas. I have a big list of recipes f

  23. Barbara says:

    Just fixed this tonight: terrific! Made a few tweaks of my own, like adding a dash of pepper sauce to the yogurt sauce, and stirring the cucumbers into it as well. Also, with no grill, I cooked the chicken in my cast iron skillet, and the flavor was fantastic anyway.

  24. The Avengers brought me here!

  25. Heather says:

    Made this today for lunch after marinating it for quite a while. It was delicious! I will definitely be making it again. The chicken was fantastic, I’ll be making some more to put on salads. Thanks for a great recipe. We loved it, tastes just like Greek restaurant chicken pitas.

  26. holy moly! this was fantastic!!! and i’m one picky eater ;) i usually get totally grossed out by chicken (well, meat in general) from restaurants, so being able to make this at home is just amazing. love love love! xo

  27. BETH! You have done it again! Served these tonight, using your Naan recipe (made on the weekend, and frozen until last night), Yellow Jasmine Rice and Marinated White Beans – AMAZING. Thanks, AGAIN, for some great recipes. Posted a pic of them together on FB, and got instant responses – your food is always a hit.

  28. These were soooooo good. And super fast too. I ate them with naan and they were amazing. I blogged about them here: http://thefoodcharlatan.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/chicken-shawarma/

  29. Loved this recipe! I was too lazy to grill so I broiled the chicken in a toaster oven. So good! Thanks for posting it!

  30. Hello! I’ve found your english muffins recipe by the Pinterest site and I was curious to try it at home. Because I’m a little bit an “overdoing things” girl so.. Yesterday I found myself doing your Naan, pita and muffin english bread. The three at the same time. The hardest wasn’t to follow the flow (extremely fast!) cause I started all three at a time, but to wait them to cool down before to taste!!
    I’m trying this chicken recipe tonight, I’ve done chicken and porc slices separatly to taste it (and cause I haven’t enought chicken hahaha )
    Now.. After I smell the flavors of the marinade, all I can say is… Do you want to be my friend?? Hahaha :) Seriously.. I respect your job a lot, I can see the love and the devotion that you put in your posts..
    So.. Can we be food friends?? Hihihi :)

  31. Anonymous says:

    Found it on Pinterest too! I just made this- and we loved it. Very authentic flavor!! I used chicken tenders because they are cheaper and easier to cook. I marinated the chicken for the full 24 hours, which I highly recommend! Chicken was very tender, even after cooking. I baked mine because we don’t have a grill and I hate cleaning our grill pan! I baked the tenders on a foil-covered pan for 15 (turning half way), at 360 deg, and then finished under the broiler for 4 minutes each side to crisp them up. So good! I also subbed red/gr pepper for tomatoes (don’t like em), and tossed the veggies/lettuce in olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano.

  32. Janel – you could actually use regular yogurt or greek yogurt for both. Just make sure to get the plain, not sweetened flavor. The only difference between greek yogurt and regular yogurt is the moisture content. Greek yogurt is strained to remove some of the water so it is thicker. I like to use greek for the dressing because it makes a thick sauce, but you can use it for the marinade too if you don’t want to buy two types of yogurt.

  33. You mention “plain yogurt” for the marinade but greek yogurt for the dressing. Is the “plain” yogurt for the marinade the greek yogurt or standard yogurt?

  34. Made this for dinner tonight. It was in the 60’s here in MD, so I grilled the chicken outside. What a fabulous recipe and meal this was! I also love how wonderful my house has smelled since last night when I started marinating the chicken. Thank you for such a yummy dish!

  35. Anonymous says:

    What are the nutritional facts on this???? It looks delicious

  36. Anonymous says:

    has anyone tried a baked version of this chicken marinade?

  37. i made this tonight and it was so good! you were right…it is a magical blend of spices haha i was a bit skeptical but after i grilled my chicken and tasted it, i loved it!!

  38. This was amazing, found it on Pinterest ! I did not have the feta and onion but will try that for sure next time. Taste exactly like a chicken Gyro that I always order and they always put waaaaaaaaaaaay too much yogurt sauce on it and always forget to put it on the side when I ask. I could put them out of business with this version, it’s so easy! I cut up my my raw chicken breast into strips before I but it in the marinade and they cooked so fast on my little foreman grill. The best part was that my 9 year old loved it. He is physically disabled and on a special low-fat diet so I put his on whole wheat Arnold Brand sandwich thins and he loved it! Mommy and Daddy had there’s on good old Naan Bread and it was YUM!

  39. This was SO delicious! I had never heard of shawarma before, but I made it anyway. I left out the cloves (since I didn’t have any) and it was still very good! I will make this again, definitely! Perfect for a light dinner on a hot summer’s day.

  40. I can’t even attempt to thank you enough for this phenomenal addition to my Wednesday night. I had a small gathering and we all moaned when the chicken ran out. It was delicious! The onion and feta were definitely good additions. Again, thanks for sharing!

  41. Seth says:

    I made this a couple of weeks ago, turned out great! I threw in the feta and red onions, too.. ;-D

  42. This recipe has been featured on The Bees Elbows!

    View the post here: http://beeselbows.blogspot.com/2011/07/tasty-tuesday-potluck-guide.html

  43. Stephanie says:

    I made this last night for dinner, and it turned out AMAZING! I followed your recipe exactly and added the feta and onion too. Instead of grilling on a Foreman grill, I cut the chicken into cubes and grilled it on wood skewers over a charcoal grill. This was so delicious.

  44. This turned out AWESOME! I am not a fan of yogurt, so i substituted w/sour cream. :) Can’t wait to make again!

  45. What’s the side dish? Butter beans with what? Everything looks delicious.

  46. Anonymous says:

    This is definitely something I’ll try…probably this weekend. Gosh it looks delicious!

  47. It seems you are expert in cooking.Hope soon you will make more delicious recipes.
    Animal Planet

  48. Oh, this sounds FANTASTIC. I love shawarma, but I’ve never tried making it myself. Now I think I have to!

  49. What an interesting combination of spices! Is this like a Greek gyro? I’m familiar with the yogurt sauce—your “method” of making it is the same as mine! Just guess and taste until you get it right. :)

  50. Looks really nice! I will try this for sure. I guess I will have to settle for ham instead of chicken for now. My youngest kid visited the doctor and I told him he get’s to have what he wants if he behaves. And ham is simply his favorite. He even loves my pancake recipe with ham in it! lol!

  51. omg i want to try this!
    im going to marinade the chicken but im going to make a chicken wrap instead!:)

  52. Thanks for a great recipe idea that I know my toddlers will like too.

  53. Mm, that looks good. I’ve been not eating meat for a month and looking for something exciting to get me back to being an omnivore. This is definitely a contender…. the flavors sound so interesting! Thanks for sharing =)

  54. If only they looked like these from the street carts; this looks so fresh and tasty!

  55. This might need to be dinner tomorrow! I showed the picture to my 13 year old daughter and she said it looked “really yummy!”
    This will be a great meal after her cheerleading workout tomorrow! Thanks!

  56. The way you’ve described this recipe, I think I have to rush out and get all the ingredients. Love your tiny GF Grill. I have a model that’s about 10 years old, but it’s huge. I can make 12 hamburgers at a time on it. The newer ones aren’t as large as mine, but they have removable grill plates, and I believe they’re dishwasher safe too.

  57. Yep! and they will probably cook faster.

  58. Anonymous says:

    This looks really really good!
    I’m just wondering, can you grill the strips of chicken just like you would a whole chicken breast?

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